Tag Archives: Kon Chiaki

New Shows + Movies by Women — June 4, 2021

There’s a lot this week, including shows and films with some awesome representation. This includes a show from the UK, and movies from Germany, Greece, Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, and the U.S. Let’s dive straight in:

NEW SERIES

We Are Lady Parts (Peacock)
showrunner Nida Manzoor

A PhD student is recruited to be the lead guitarist for an all-women, Muslim punk band.

Nida Manzoor created, writes, directs, produces, and showruns “We Are Lady Parts”. The UK series aired earlier this year to very strong reviews, and now comes available in the U.S.

You can watch “We Are Lady Parts” on Peacock.

NEW MOVIES

Port Authority (VOD)
directed by Danielle Lessovitz

Paul is a Midwesterner fresh to New York. He quickly falls for a dancer named Wye, and discovers she’s trans. He wrestles with the bigotry he’s grown up with, whether he’ll be accepted by cis friends he’s making, and whether he’ll pursue his feelings.

“Port Authority” casts Leyna Bloom, a trans woman of color, as Wye. The film’s gotten both praise for its casting and representation, and some criticism for focusing through the lens of Paul’s journey.

This is the first feature from writer-director Danielle Lessovitz.

See where to rent “Port Authority”.

The Girl and the Gun (Netflix)
directed by Rae Red

A woman finds a gun sitting on her doorstep one night. Fed up with abuse, she decides to put it to use.

Rae Red has written several films and series in the Philippines. This is her second directorial effort.

You can watch “The Girl and the Gun” on Netflix.

Kajillionaire (HBO Max)
directed by Miranda July

A young woman named Old Dolio Dyne grifts, cons, and heists alongside her parents. It’s a living. They’re not very successful, though. They owe rent so they need a new mark, but things are complicated when Old Dolio connects with her. The cast is interesting, with Evan Rachel Wood as Old Dolio, Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins as her parents, and Gina Rodriguez as their new mark.

Writer-director Miranda July has an abstract storytelling style that centers on off-kilter, somewhat invisible characters, and the humanity in what’s ‘unremarkable’ about them. She’s known for “Me and You and Everyone We Know” and “The Future”.

I shared this when it hit VOD, but this is the first time it’s on a subscription service. You can watch “Kajillionaire” on HBO Max, or see where to rent it.

Sailor Moon Eternal (Netflix)
directed by Kon Chiaki

Behold, the progenitor of the magical girl genre returns. The first Sailor Moon films in 26 years were released in Japan as two 80-minute films, but they’re coming out paired in the U.S. That’s nearly 3 hours of new Sailor Moon.

A Pegasus appears in Tokyo during a solar eclipse, asking for help in breaking a magical seal. Meanwhile, a new villainous organization known as the Dead Moon Circus spreads nightmares with the intention of ruling the Earth and Moon. This is an adaptation of the Dream arc of the manga. I have to confess I’m not too familiar with Sailor Moon, but I’m told the Dream arc is an incredibly big deal.

Director Kon Chiaki has helmed adaptations of “Higurashi When They Cry” and the Book of Sunrise arc of “Naruto Shippuden”. She also directed the adaptation for “The Way of the Househusband” earlier this year (also on Netflix).

You can watch both parts of “Sailor Moon Eternal” on Netflix. Both parts are listed as episodes under the entry “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie”.

The World to Come (Hulu)
directed by Mona Fastvold

Neighboring women in the mid-19th century begin a whirlwind romance. Of course, they have to hide it from their husbands. Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby star.

Be aware that the film also stars Casey Affleck. He was sued by two women for repeated sexual harassment for his behavior on the set of “I’m Still Here”. The suits maintained that they weren’t paid for their work as a retaliation. It’s important to recognize that is a form of extortion. The suits were settled, and Affleck finally acknowledged culpability eight years later, in 2018. I mention all this because I know many are uncomfortable with watching him, and others may not know why.

This is director Mona Fastvold’s second feature after 2014’s “The Sleepwalker”. She may be best known as a writer on “The Mustang”.

You can watch “The World to Come” on Hulu, or rent it.

Kala Azar (MUBI)
directed by Janis Rafailidou

In the midst of what could be read as a post-apocalypse, a couple continues to care for both dead and abandoned animals, even risking their own lives and sense of self to do so.

The Greek film is the first feature from writer-director Janis Rafailidou.

You can watch “Kala Azar” on MUBI.

I Was at Home, But… (MUBI)
directed by Angela Schanelec

A 13-year old reappears a week after disappearing from home. The adults around him are confronted with questions that have no easy answers.

Writer-director Angela Schanelec has directed eight other feature films, and won the Berlin International Film Festival for this one.

You can watch “I was at Home, But…” on MUBI.

Dancing Queens (Netflix)
directed by Helena Bergstrom

A young woman stuck in the backwaters of a Swedish archipelago dreams of becoming a famous dancer. She misses an audition by a month, but chances upon a drag show that’s interested in casting her.

Director Helena Bergstrom has directed a great deal in the Swedish film and TV industries.

You can watch “Dancing Queens” on Netflix.

Trippin’ with the Kandasamys (Netflix)
directed by Jayan Moodley

In this South African film, two women were best friends before they became in-laws. They plan a getaway with their partners, but hijinks ensue.

This is the third in Jayan Moodley’s very successful Kandasamys franchise. The franchise is a South African-Bollywood co-production. This is the kind of thing that we American viewers are badly educated on, but South Africa is actually home to 1.3 million people of Indian descent, and Durban has one of the largest Indian populations outside India itself.

You can watch “Trippin’ with the Kandasamys”, as well as the two previous Kandasamys movies, on Netflix.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you like what you read on this site, subscribe to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

New Shows + Movies by Women — April 9, 2021

April brings new network shows and new anime series. Anime tends to release seasonally, with many series running under a single unifying director and episodes broken off to episode directors. This is somewhat akin to showrunners and episode directors in the U.S., but the two aren’t completely comparable.

In fact, showrunners are most prevalent in U.S. series. Part of this is due to our history of 20+ episode seasons to fill network TV space. Most countries don’t run narrative shows with this many episodes a season unless you’re specifically talking about soap operas.

It’s a lot easier for a single director to manage an entire series when that season is 3-to-12 episodes. As streaming takes over and U.S. audience interest in higher-quality, limited series has increased, we’re seeing a bit more single-director series – but the showrunner concept has mostly held on here. It’s not unique to us, but showrunners are more of a rule in the U.S., whereas most countries tend to offer a higher ratio of director-driven series.

Showrunners aren’t an advantage or disadvantage. Sometimes they’ll strictly be producers who ensure a series is delivered on-time and on-budget – more a manager and less of a creative force. This is especially true for franchises. However, the showrunner approach can often mean a writer is given the reigns of a series, which is somewhat less common in director-driven industries.

Obviously, a director can be a showrunner as well, and someone can be writer, director, and producer all – so definitions aren’t hard and fast. The reason I’m seeking to make this difference is that often I’ll feature a series here as having a showrunner, or being directed mostly by women. Other times, I’ll list a series simply as being directed by a woman.

This week provides a good example why. The three U.S. series that premiered this week have showrunners. The three anime series are all run by directors. Some of that difference is semantic, but it’s worth noting that the three showrunners for the U.S. shows are all writer-producers. The three directors of Japanese shows are all directors.

This isn’t just a difference between live-action and anime, either. Most live-action series from East Asian countries such as China, Korea, Japan, or Taiwan are run by directors as well. Most of their experience has come along a directorial path. Most series from the U.S. are run by showrunners – who tend to come up as writers or producers more often.

If you see series listed with these differences, this is why.

On another note, I want to highlight a pair of new short documentaries on MUBI by Argentine-British filmmaker Jessica Sarah Rinland. “Black Pond” is a 42-minute doc about an English natural history society that cares for bats and provides detailed local scientific information.

Her 67-minute doc “Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another” considers the changing face of conservation through the journey of an elephant’s tusk.

NEW SERIES

Kung Fu (The CW)
showrunner Christina M. Kim

Nikky runs away from home and joins a Shaolin temple. There she learns kung fu – until it’s attacked by a woman seeking a magical sword. Nikky returns to San Francisco and the family she left, only to discover that they face their own threat.

I caught the pilot and it’s effectively what you expect from a CW superhero origin story, with the exception of course that most of the cast are Asian. That in itself makes it refreshing and worth watching. It’s fun.

I can understand the criticism aimed at it. Many elements introduced in the pilot are cliché, but that’s nothing new for superhero stories or series pilots. A series that actually bothers to include those who are rarely represented feels a lot more interesting to me than most of the action or superhero material out there.

Showrunner Christina M. Kim has been a writer on “Lost”, and a writer and producer on “Blindspot” and “Hawaii Five-0”.

You can watch “Kung Fu” Wednesdays at 8 pm Eastern on CW, with new episodes streaming the day after online at The CW.

Rebel (ABC)
showrunner Krista Vernoff

Rebel is a lawyer who takes on corporations both in the courtroom and the sphere of public opinion. The show is based on the real-life work of Erin Brokovich, and counts Brokovich as one of its executive producers.

The cast on this is notable. Katey Sagal seems like the ideal lead for this, while Andy Garcia, Mary McDonnell, and Adam Arkin also feature.

Showrunner Krista Vernoff has been a writer and producer on “Shameless”, “Wonderfalls”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and the original “Charmed”.

You can watch “Rebel” Thursdays at 10 pm Eastern on ABC. They’ve streamed the first episode here.

The Way of the Househusband (Netflix)
directed by Kon Chiaki

A once-infamous Yakuza boss now commits himself to taking care of his family and supporting his wife’s career. The manga was a hit for its juxtaposition of daily domestic tasks against Tatsu’s relentless intensity.

Director Kon Chiaki has helmed adaptations of “Higurashi When They Cry” and the Book of Sunrise arc of “Naruto Shippuden”. She’s also taken over as current director of the “Sailor Moon” series, including this year’s two part theatrical release “Sailor Moon Eternal”.

You can watch “The Way of the Househusband” on Netflix.

Blue Reflection Ray (Funimation)
directed by Yoshida Risako

“Blue Reflection Ray” is a magical girl series based on an RPG. The game followed an injured dancer who’s granted powers to visit another world to defend ours from monsters.

Yoshida Risako has directed an arc of “The Irregular at Magic High School” as well as the movie.

You can watch “Blue Reflection Ray” on Funimation. It will simulcast as new episodes become available every Friday.

Koikimo (Crunchyroll)
directed by Naomi Nakayama

A schoolgirl saves a businessman. Instead of thanking her, he becomes creepy and starts stalking her. Should’ve let the dude faceplant. I have no idea how the anime handles the concept – whether it does so responsibly or as an excuse for a romantic comedy.

Naomi Nakayama has been an episode director on “Hunter x Hunter”, “My Hero Academia”, and “Casshern Sins”, among others.

You can watch “Koikimo” on Crunchyroll. It will simulcast as new episodes become available every Monday.

Chad (TBS)
showrunner Nasim Pedrad

Nasim Pedrad stars as a 14 year-old boy in his first year of high school.

Pedrad is writer, star, and showrunner on the show. The Iranian-American star is best known as a cast member from “Saturday Night Live” and “New Girl”.

You can watch “Chad” on Tuesdays on TBS. They’ve posted the first episode here.

NEW MOVIES

The Last Right (VOD)
directed by Aoife Crehan

A man he meets on a flight leaves Daniel in charge of a coffin. He doesn’t know the person whose corpse he now has to get to a remote Irish island.

This makes the feature debut of writer-director Aoife Crehan.

You can rent “The Last Right” on Amazon, Google Play, Redbox, or Vudu.

The Power (Shudder)
directed by Corinna Faith

It’s 1974, in Britain. A nurse works the night shift at a crumbling hospital. When the power is cut across the country, something inside the hospital starts to awake.

Writer-director Corinna Faith has worked primarily in documentaries. This makes her second narrative feature.

You can watch “The Power” on Shudder.

Have You Ever Seen Fireflies? (Netflix)
directed by Andac Haznedaroglu

This Turkish coming-of-age film follows Gulseren as she tries to make sense of her world amidst her country’s political turmoil.

Director Andac Haznedaroglu has directed a number of Turkish series, and shifted over to feature filmmaking in 2016.

You can watch “Have You Ever Seen Fireflies?” on Netflix.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you enjoy what you read on this site, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.